Recently we found out that Death Stranding (opens in new tab) will have an easy mode. Kojima explained it was essentially for movie fans so people could enjoy the story, and you know what? That's great. Death Stranding looks like it's going to be one massive head… messing thing at the best of times, and the last thing some people might want to deal with is difficulty, on top of unpicking the meaning behind ghostly chiral monsters, voidouts, and pet babies in tanks.
Words and deeds
Okay, nearly all games have an easy more but there always seems to be a stigma attached. For a small but vocal audience, you're only allowed to enjoy games if you play them – and I'm doing big air quotes here – "properly". But why is it such a big deal? Why should someone's enjoyment of a thing be judged by someone else's values? When you look back on a game you loved, that one game you always rush to tell someone about, what do you remember the most? The story or characters, the world you visited, or the technical achievement of completing it?
When the Death Stranding easy mode was announced however, there were the usual mutterings that people would be playing it wrong or failing to have the 'true' experience and that really needs to go away. There shouldn't be any stigma attached to easy mode for so many reasons. For starters, no one's allowed to complain about games not being taken seriously in mainstream media and then look down on people playing on easy. If you want your hobby to be taken seriously, you can't make people feel bad for not matching your personal standards. Having two sets of rules promotes elitism, and divides an audience that should be on the same team. You see it in films where hardcore movies fans complain about people not really 'seeing' something properly unless its on a massive screen with a million point one surround sound. While some diehard music fans snipe at people enjoying music via Spotify on airpods.
And it just doesn't matter. You can still enjoy a good film on your phone, and if a song makes you tap your foot who cares where the noise came from. It's the same for games. If it moves you, if it stays with you afterwards, it shouldn't matter whether you played it on easy or on ultra death hard mode with a Rock Band drum controller while blindfolded. Games like The Last of Us aren't going to have any less emotional heft because the Clickers go down a bit easier. While something like Far Cry isn't going to provide any less chaotic action because you dialled the challenge down.
There's also time and money at stake here as well. Not everyone wants to grind against a tough boss for a couple of evenings in a row if they only have time to play at weekends. And, when you're playing 60 dollars or more for a game you want to see what you've paid for, not tap out because you can't get past a tough bit.
At the end of the day it's entirely up to you. I like normal difficulty, some people love a challenge and someone else might just want to see what a game's got and enjoy it. And that's the key thing: that we all enjoy, it however we play it. It shouldn't matter what difficulty. We're all gamers because we love games whatever way we choose to play them.
Check out more of our Dialogue Options, such as our discussion on the future of decision based games or our exploration of whether open-world games are really as open as they appear?